The Cayman Islands continues to take important steps towards eventually having its own military regiment.
Reporting on the progress to date of the Cayman Islands Regiment, Hon. Premier Alden McLaughlin says work to establish the new Cayman Islands Regiment is moving at a good pace.
Addressing the Legislative Assembly, he disclosed that “three part-time senior officers have been recruited who between them have over thirty-eight years of officer experience in the British Army and the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force.”
The Regiment will be commanded by Simon Watson who was formerly a Dragoons Guard in the British Army.
He will be supported by Simon Spiers, who has served in a range of senior military roles, which included tours in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Andre Mon Desir, former Chairman of the Cayman Islands Cadet Corps Committee has been assigned as Legal Advisor to the new Regiment.
Mr Mon Desir came through the ranks of the Cadets’ programme. He has experience as an officer with the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force as a Senior Legal Advisor and Staff Judge Advocate.
The new team will be assisted by a Regimental Sergeant Major, who has thirteen years’ experience as a non-commissioned officer in the British Army including operational deployments, training and recruitment roles.
Premier McLaughlin also announced that the first six junior officers have also been recruited and are due to leave for Bermuda in mid-February to attend three weeks of initial training with the Royal Bermuda Regiment.
They will also attend officer training at the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst in the United Kingdom later this year.
Five of the six recruits are former members of the Cayman Islands Cadet Corps and the sixth recruit has former training experience with the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service.
They will serve as full-time officers for a year before becoming reservists and returning to their regular careers.
The Junior Officers will be equipped and provided with uniforms by the United Kingdom Government during their basic training in Bermuda and upon their return to our islands they will assist the Senior Officers in the recruitment of fifty reservists who will all receive basic training in Bermuda in July.
“The development of this new regiment in the Cayman Islands is an important moment for us,” the Premier told the Assembly.
“We are all very fortunate to live in a country that is safe and has excellent infrastructure but Mr Speaker as we have seen only this week with the earthquake and back in 2017 and 2019 the devastating hurricanes that hit our neighbours and friends so hard, not to mention Hurricane Ivan in 2004, we need to evolve and adapt to ensure we are ready to face any threat.”
Premier McLaughlin emphasised that “having a trained and disciplined force in Cayman will have a positive impact on youth development and leadership in our Islands. It will also boost security and increase our resilience on disaster management and the support that we can offer across the wider Caribbean.”
He went on to say: “This new Regiment along with the recently increased resilience of our air operations, the great work that our Hazard Management team does to prepare and coordinate disasters will help us to meet the needs of our Islands today and into the future.”
The Premier was also keen to stress the nature and purpose of the new regiment.
“Mr Speaker, this is a Cayman Islands regiment. It is not some outpost of the British Army. It is locally based and overwhelmingly it will be made up of Caymanian recruits.”
He also said that there's tremendous interest amongst young people who wish to join the regiment.
“Seventy people applied for those six posts,” Mr Mcaughlin stated, adding that, “The interest has been incredible. We need experienced officers, so initially it is inevitable that they will be from overseas. However, the Regiment will provide a pathway to the best and brightest Caymanian recruits to become the officers of the future.”
Premier McLaughlin noted that: “The Cayman Islands Regiment is another important symbol that we are maturing as a nation, ready to take responsibility for our own affairs and able to take our place in the world. It will be a symbol of pride for all Caymanians and it will be an organization that our young people can aspire to be a part of.
“I look forward to keeping this House and the country updated as we take the future steps to create the Cayman Islands Regiment.”
Both Hon. Premier Alden McLaughlin and His Excellency The Governor Martyn Roper and the Honourable Premier Alden McLaughlin have met the lead team who will spearhead the new regiment.
Governor Martyn Roper said: “I am delighted that we have moved quickly to establish the Regiment. Its primary focus will be disaster preparedness and it will be up and running by August this year.
“The events of this week underline the importance of developing a Regiment in the Cayman Islands which will provide resilience against disasters, not only at home, but also to help our fellow Overseas Territories when in need.”
The Governor said, “I am very grateful to Simon Watson and the other officers for stepping forward and volunteering to serve the Cayman Islands in this way.”
“The junior officers will in turn receive some of the best military training available which will help to develop their leadership potential. We will watch their progress with keen interest.”
Premier Alden McLaughlin commented: “The development of a regiment in the Cayman Islands is an important moment. We are blessed to live in a country which is safe and has excellent infrastructure but recent history, including this week’s earthquake and the devastating hurricanes that impacted the region in 2017 and 2019, highlight the need to adapt and ensure that we are prepared and resilient to face any threat.”
He said, “Having a trained and disciplined force which can be mobilised quickly is vital and will enhance the other initiatives which we have recently introduced including the increased resilience of our air operations unit and the excellent work that HMCI does to prepare and coordinate our response to disasters.
According to Mr McLaughlin, “It is great to see talent from the Cayman Islands Cadet Corp being developed with the excellent training they will receive, including at Sandhurst. I am grateful to Simon Watson and his team for volunteering and wish them every success.”